22) Writing for Clients

While internal projects are a big part of Travel Tractions, and they’re great because we have full control over them, client work is usually what pays the bills. So, it’s vital that whenever you pick up a client order post, you create quality work.

This SOP will help you do exactly that, in the most efficient way possible.

Types of Clients

We have three ‘categories’ of clients. They are all just as special and appreciated as each other, but there are a few differences.

First-Time Clients

As the name suggests, these are clients who are ordering for the very first time. These are very special clients (although all of our clients are special) because we want to impress them and make sure they order again.

First-time client posts are also known as pilot posts. Since we won’t have a clear idea of the client’s expectations yet, special care and attention is taken by the writer, editor, and checker.

Returning Clients

These are the clients who continue to order, sometimes on a regular basis, and sometimes less frequently. We’ve worked with them before, so we have most of their details and have a better idea of what they want.

This also includes clients who order ‘series’ of content with us. For instance, a blogger who has ordered 20+ different posts all about Airbnbs in X (with a list of countries/cities to write about).

Retainer Clients

These clients work according to our ideal business model. They pay us a monthly retainer to write a specific amount of content. These clients are also quite ‘easy’ to work on, since we’ve usually ironed out any kinks and know what they expect from us.

You’ll almost always do both keyword research AND images for these clients.

Note: Returning and retainer clients should have their own Slack channels, and many will have their own Asana tasks as well. Look for these before you start writing to be sure that you have all the necessary information.

Project Strategists/Managers

In the main task management sheet, on the Websites/Clients tab, you’ll find names of team members next to each of our clients and projects.

The project manager role is pretty self-explanatory. They manage all the tasks for a specific client. They’ll need to read over and approve your work before it’s sent off to the client. They’re familiar with the client and know exactly what they’re looking for.

Once they have looked over your work, they’ll tag the account manager. This person (usually Candice) will go through the post and let the client know it’s ready for them.

They’ll usually be the most knowledgeable in everything about the project and will be able to answer any questions you have. For clients who order often and regularly, there will be a Slack channel dedicated to info, questions, and feedback.

Client Requests & SOPs

Before you start writing for a client, make sure you have your client’s status sheet & SOP, found here on the “Websites/Clients” tab. If you don’t see an SOP or a sheet, ask the account manager to help.

Each client has their own preferences, writing style, affiliate codes and formatting rules for their websites. In some cases, the same client will have multiple websites – all with their own voice, style, and formatting.

In the client sheet, you’ll find several tabs, one of which is named ‘client requests’ or ‘SOP’.

This tab gets filled out by the client. They can add as much (or as little) information as they feel we need, and it’s important to follow this information closely.

Things you’ll find on this tab include:

  • Headings – title case/sentence case/etc.
  • Spelling – UK/US
  • Voice – First/Third person
  • Affiliate codes – and which partners they use
  • Image sizes for if they order images – 800 px wide
  • Any specific details to note e.g. they are vegetarian

This sheet should be opened before you start ANY client post. Even if you’ve written for them before, the SOPs are updated and changed often, ALWAYS check before you begin to write.

Step by Step on Client Writing Process

The beginning of the process for client work is very much the same as the process for internal work. We’re just making sure that we write exactly what the client wants, and we’re double-checking to make sure that our work is of the highest quality.

Step 1 – Pick Your Topic

Select your topic from the Content Sheet and add your name in the ‘Person’ column. Make sure that you check the ‘Comment’ column, sometimes an additional brief or outline has been added there.  This column will also tell you if you need images or keywords.

Step 2 – Prepare Your Asana Task

Duplicate the correct task as some clients have their own tasks specified.  Make sure that the description block and project details are filled in and up to date.

Asana – check the content templates tasks to see if this client has their own templates (as is the case for thebrokebackbackpacker.com). Only clients who order regularly, and have very specific content needs will get their own templates. For all other clients, use the Client Post (template) task.

Step 3 – Do your keyword research (if the client has requested it to be done)

Make sure that your keyword sheet is neat and reflects your research well. Remember that the client is going to see this, so make it look professional. If the client has provided some of their own keywords, make sure you include these keywords on a separate tab.

Step 4 – Decide on Headings

This will largely be dictated by the client brief and keyword research.

Step 5 – Research your topic

Make sure you understand what you are writing about, and that you have valuable sources of information.

Step 6 – Look for affiliates

Now that you know what sort of information will be included in the post, you can look for an affiliate opportunity. Cross-check this with the affiliate partnerships that the client has and make note of where an affiliate could potentially fit.

Step 7 – Write Your Post

Follow all of our usual writing rules, as well as any client specifications received. Don’t forget that you should be following your Asana subtasks, and checking them off as you go. If you are concerned about any of the subtasks and whether they are relevant for the post, check with the account manager.

Step 8 – Proofread

Once the post is written, check it over once yourself. Make sure that you’ve followed the client SOP, that your keywords are tidy and have been used appropriately, and that any images you’ve added into the post are in the folder as well. These are all Asana tasks that should be ticked off as you go along.

Step 9 – Send for Editing.

As usual, you’ll add your Google folder link to your Asana task, copy the Asana link, and paste it into the #editing channel in Slack. Someone will then edit and proofread the article. Make sure that the Google folder permissions are set to “Anyone can edit”. Once someone offers to edit your piece, assign them the editing subtask.

Step 10 – Resolve changes and update sheets.

When the post is edited, and you have made all of the changes and resolved all comments, you need to add the post details in two places – the internal writing sheet, AND the client’s sheet.

Make sure that you have the name of the post, the website it’s meant for, the word count ordered by the client, your folder link and the month in both of these sheets. Check that the editor has also put their name in the “edited” column on the internal writing sheet.

Throughout the editing process, the “status” of the post on the client sheet should always be set to ‘Editing’. This is so that the project manager/strategist can do one last check before it reaches the client – eliminating small mistakes slipping through the cracks.

If we are uploading the post to the client’s website, the status will then be either ‘WordPress Draft’ or ‘Uploaded’ – depending on the client.

Step 11 – Final three steps.

There are now 3 things to do before you are done.

First, tag the managing editor in the client sheet – click on the status block, then click on the comment icon in the top bar, and type @+the email address to notify the managing editor that the post is ready to go.

Second, go back to your Asana task and assign the subtask “tag the managing editor here”.

DO NOT COMPLETE THIS SUBTASK!

And lastly, add a comment into the #content channel stating the post name, and the client name, as well as the fact that it is complete and added to both sheets.

Task Complete

After following each step closely, and ensuring that your piece is good quality, your job is (almost) done. The client will receive the piece, and the only time you’ll need to think about it again is if there are any changes to be made.

Over To You

It’s time to pick your very first client post! Take a look at the task sheet, you’ll find all the important client posts right at the top.

Scan through the topics and pick one that:

  • Has the soonest upcoming deadline
  • Has a high priority
  • Is at your level
  • Piques your interest

Note: When writing client posts, we have deadlines that are extremely important to keep to. It’s also important to pick up posts according to deadline – so if something is due in a couple of days, it’s better to pick that up rather than something due in a couple of weeks.

Once you’ve completed your first client post, the next ones will be that much easier. Click ‘Complete’ and move on to your last lesson for Month 3.